It was not immediately clear how long Mr. Kissinger would be in Beijing or whether he would meet with other officials, including China’s leader, Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi and Mr. Kissinger met in Beijing in 2019, when Mr. Xi told Mr. Kissinger that he hoped he would “enjoy many more healthy years ahead and continue to be a promoter of and contributor to Sino-U.S. relations,” according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.
Wu Xinbo, the dean of international studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said that China’s warmth toward Mr. Kissinger sent a message about how much importance China placed on “old friends.” That friendship contrasted with the more aggressive stances toward Beijing taken by recent American presidential administrations.
“This symbolism is very important,” he said. “I think Kissinger’s visit to China is meant to send a signal, that China-U.S. relations should be viewed from a historical perspective.” He added, “You can’t just pay attention to short-term political needs.”
In the same way, Professor Wu said, Mr. Kissinger’s meeting with Mr. Li, the defense minister, was another reminder to the United States that China would not resume direct military-to-military communications until the United States lifted its sanctions. Chinese officials had rejected Mr. Blinken’s request to reopen those channels during his visit.
The Chinese defense ministry’s statement about the meeting with Mr. Kissinger said that Mr. Li had criticized “some people in the United States” for “not meeting China halfway,” noting that the atmosphere for friendly communication had been “destroyed.”
Chinese state media has showered Mr. Kissinger with praise.
In an article in May, for Mr. Kissinger’s 100th birthday, the Global Times, a nationalistic party-run tabloid, said Mr. Kissinger was “legendary,” and “still keeps his great mind razor-sharp on U.S.-China relations by explicitly warning Washington” against an adversarial relationship.
Joy Dong and Amy Chang Chien contributed research.